MASON — Justin Hoevel wanted to put the Badin High School baseball team in the best position to win Thursday.
The Rams’ offense gave him an early boost.
Rodney Rachel hit a two-run homer, Hoevel tossed a complete game with eight strikeouts and Badin knocked off Lakewood 9-2 in a Division II regional semifinal at Mason.
“We knew we were going in against a team that was coming in hot — a little chirpy,” Hoevel said. “We just felt that as the away team we just had to get ahead, and that’s what we did. I had to get behind them and do my job, and it was just a fun day.”
The Rams (29-1) will face Chaminade Julienne in the regional finals on Friday at 5 p.m. at Mason. The Eagles beat CHCA 5-1 in the other regional semifinal on Thursday. Badin beat CJ two times during the regular season, both 3-0 contests.
“It’s tournament time. You win, you get to stay together,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said. “It’s a beautiful thing. We’ve got a quick turnaround and play again tomorrow, so you really don’t get the chance to enjoy the win like you’d want. We’re going to go home, hydrate, get some good rest and try to be ready to compete tomorrow.”
Badin and Lakewood (12-16) last played in the state finals in 2005, with the Lancers coming out on top 2-1.
Rachel, Chandler Taylor, Kyle Anderson and Chase Luebbe each had two hits to pace Badin, which has won 10 in a row. Rachel and Taylor each had three RBIs.
Lucas Moore singled and Brycen Fox reached on an infield error to start things off for the Rams. Taylor tripled in Moore and Fox to give Badin a 2-0 lead. Rachel doubled the next at-bat and scored Taylor.
Hoevel said the early run support helped set the tone.
“It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like they have my back,” the senior right-hander said. “It’s just so much easier to go out there knowing they have my back.”
The Rams added three more runs in the third when Rachel hit his two-run homer and Anderson scored on a Lakewood throwing error.
“It shows when we have fun when we hit the ball and when we make plays,” Rachel said. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
Lakewood pushed two runs across the plate in the fourth on Peyton Tichenor’s two-run double that cut Badin’s lead to 6-2.
The Rams got three more runs in the seventh before Hoevel closed it out on the mound.
“It helped that we were able to get out to an early lead,” Treadway said. “We had a lot of good at-bats and put the ball on play. I just thought we kept coming.
“Justin has done a tremendous job of keeping us in baseball games,” Treadway added. “It’s just fun to watch him work. He’s a senior. Guys like him earn it. There is a level of comfortability with him. Seemed like because he was comfortable, we were comfortable. We came out on top because of that.”